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Avoiding identity theft when everything is lost

By Janet Lacey
Published: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

When cardholders face the seriously unfortunate situation of losing their credit cards, debit cards, driver’s license, health insurance and other important cards all at the same time due to stolen wallets containing everything, the following steps must be considered to avoid identity theft.

Cardholders must first cancel their credit cards. This does not mean waiting for charges to be made on the card before taking action. Immediately reporting credit card loss to the authorities will compel the latter to automatically cancel or close down the cardholder’s account.

Cardholders with multiple credit cards are encouraged to keep only one or two of these cards in their wallet. Keeping the majority of the cards at home or anywhere else considered as secure will also help avoid serious losses on the part of the owner.

Next, close your debit card accounts immediately as well. This might be difficult for those who are more dependent on their debit rather than credit cards. However, this is also a decision beneficial in the long-run to avoid thieves charging more to the account and the real owner suffering from debts. Also, credit unions can offer debit card replacements should losses due to stolen wallets, etc… occur.

Just like the credit cards, the debit cards will also be checked for the latest transactions. Should there be new transactions registered, the debit owners might already be late in reporting and asking for the closure of the debit account. Always remember that your inaction prolongs a thieves’ time to shop around using your debit account.

Third, consider having a fraud alert in place for your credit files. You can first call the Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) to give your phone number, Social Security Number, date of birth, address, and zip code.

The fraud alert adds difficulty to—if not precludes—the thieves’ illegal activities such as opening new accounts under your name. Credit grantors will be obliged to call the number you provided when you sought fraud alerts to verify that applications for made by the right persons.

You should then exert effort in reviewing your credit reports since items or entries which are be negative or questionable may take some time finally appearing in the credit listing.

Fourth, you need to file a police report. Authorities that can take action immediately belong to the local police. Police report copies are also to be obtained to have evidence or proof that when you reported to the police, transactions made on your account were no longer authorized. For your driver’s license, report to the authorities since the Social Security Number is contained in them. For your health insurance and other cards, you can ask for replacement from those who issued them.

While most of them will allow replacements, you should make the necessary changes in your important information so that the issuers will not mistake your transactions with those of the thieves who ran away with your original cards. What the authorities will entertain as legitimate will be the changes you have made to protect your entitlements.

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